Photo by Andy West
The first time I saw The Rocket Summer was at the Aladdin Theatre. My friends and I came to see Brooklyn-based indie rockers Nightmare Of You open the show with newcomers Paramore. At a friend’s suggestion, we stayed for the rest of the show with Bryce Avary’s The Rocket Summer headlining. Yes, there was confetti. Yes, it was a bizarre tour lineup. And yes, I left that night with a new appreciation for optimistic pop tunes.
Avary began performing music at a young age in Texas – playing in an indie rock band in high school and eventually moving on to local solo performances. His first EP was released when he was just 16 and quickly became the most-requested songs on local radio.
The Militia Group put out Avary’s first album, Calendar Days, in 2003 under the moniker The Rocket Summer. His 2nd release, Hello Good Friend, was released shortly after in 2005 and picked up a ranking spot on Billboard. Avary then signed with Island Def Jam to release 2007′s Do You Feel. During these years, The Rocket Summer was touring on Warped Tour and completing numerous successful tours across the country with Avary pouring emotion into each of his performances and making deep connections with fans.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Great. Another successful pop outfit. What makes this group different?” How about the fact that Avary self-records his albums, performing all the instruments on all the tracks, which he of course wrote and sings himself with assured confidence and optimism. He’s even been known to loop tracks live and play entire songs on his own (I’ve seen him go from the drum kit to the bass to the keys to the guitar – and it’s impressive). And he’s not afraid to be honest about his struggles, theologies and growth as an individual.
In 2010 Pete Freedman wrote a fascinating piece on TRS and Bryce Avary’s decade-long career and his association with happiness. Freedman discusses “the persona he’s carefully crafted—a sort of happy-go-lucky caricature of a young man willing to take the dreaded sad and sappy emo tag his music’s been labeled with, turn it on its head and give it a positive message.” It’s this re-appropriation of “emo” that gives his music its charming quality and made it an attractive listen for fans of emo, pop, and faith-based music alike.
After a lengthy wait on the release of Of Men and Angels, Avary was beginning to show a little anxiety and stress behind his typical charismatic, joyful grin. With some time off to record Life Will Write The Words, Avary is back and stronger than ever. With a career spanning a decade and being praised with accolades from the very beginning, Avary has had his share of backlash from fans as he grows up and his music grows with him – but Avary is persistent, unwavering and faithful; his music expresses the growth and passion he endures.
The Rocket Summer is set to release their new album on June 5th via Aviate Records. Check out the video for their new single “Run And Don’t Stop,” which features a taste of tour life with Avary and his cohorts here:
Always a sweetheart, I can’t wait to catch up with Bryce Avary, hear some new songs and sing along to the classics (my favorites being “Cross My Heart,” “Hello, Good Friend,” and “Brat Pack”). Join my friends and I – and bring yours, everyone is welcome – to The Rocket Summer on May 31st when they headline at El Corazon in Seattle! Tickets are available now through Cascade Tickets.